The following variation was written a few years later than the Variations I describe here. The theme it varies is from the “To the Reader” introduction to Les Fleurs du Mal, or rather from my translation of “To the Reader,” which I may share at some point.
It’s true, my friend, you have free will
And yet, you are a puppet still.
The Devil’s fingers pull your strings.
He makes you do disgusting things.
He leads you through the murk and mire
Nearer to eternal fire.
But, if you wish, you can escape.
The strings are only stuck with tape.
So yank them off, and turn to good.
Abstinence and brotherhood.
But if you worship womankind,
And if you yearn one night to find
Soft golden hair across your chest,
And touch her softly rounded breast,
And hear her sweet, seductive song,
I guess you’ll have to string along